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attacks on former high-ranking officials. >>> right now, a developing story from the civil war in syria. senior u.s. officials tell abc news, president bashar assad's forces have loaded nerve gas components into bombs at or near syrian airfields. it is assumed, the intent was to move the bombs onto aircraft. but there's no way to know if that happened for certain. the issue, of course, has the full attention of the obama administration. >> our concerns are that an increasingly desperate assad regime might turn to chemical weapons or might lose control of them to one of the many groups that are now operating within syria. >> syrian ground forces and rebels have been battling in and around syrian capital of damascus. it is now estimated that more than 40,000 people have been killed in violence in march 2011. >> just an atrocity there. >>> now to the pink slips at citigroup. the company is slashing 11,000 jobs worldwide. about 4% of its work force. more than half of those cuts will come from consumer banking. and they are aimed at saving $900 billion next year alone. investors were apparen
says the accountability review board report provides a clear look at syria's systemic challenges that we've begun to fix and says i accept every one of them. so clearly taking responsibility for the state department and saying listen, we've already begun to fix these problems. >> established that task force. that report did have this finding, the board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual u.s. government employee breached his or her duty. so they were assigning blame more to the system than any one particular person. >> which is good news for the secretary of state. i would imagine. >>> out of syria and lucky to be alive, nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engle has a nightmare story to sell after he and his crew were kidnapped in syria. they were rescued by rebels during a gun battle at a checkpoint monday night. the men were grabbed last week shortly after entering the country from turkey. they were blind folded, bound and threatened with execution, but never physically harmed. >> the last five days were very difficult. we're very happy to be ou
unaccounted for. >>> now we turn to syria, where christians are praying for peace in their war-torn country on this christmas day. because of security reasons, churches hosted christmas eve services at 5:00 last night, not at midnight. the state department has condemned in the strongest terms the recent wave of bombings that have targeted civilians launched by the assad regime. >>> pope benedict xvi called for prayers for syrians and others in the middle east living in conflict. his christmas message opened with a traditional latin wish for peace, especially to those who live and suffer in places where christ lived. the pope expressed hope that people caught up in the high tech world find room in their hearts for god. >>> thousands of christian pilgrims celebrated mass in bethlehem this morning, the town where it is believed christ was born. the holiday was especially joyous on the west bank after the united nations recognized palestine as an independent state. >>> here in the u.s., it is a day for worship, for exchanging gifts, getting together with family and friends and planning a return
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